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Middle School

Exploration Courses

Small enough and smart enough to truly personalize each learning experience.
Exploration courses are designed to immerse students and faculty in experiences and pursuits that inspire new interests, broaden skills, and sharpen awareness of the community outside of the classroom.  Rooted in academic and real world skills, they are designed on a pass/fail basis to encourage students and faculty to take risks, to be playful, and to venture into new territory such as beekeeping, forensics, sportscasting, personal finance, podcasting and more.

During Explorations, Middle School students can take Band and Strings or Chorus without having to choose between the arts and study hall, and Explorations give MS and US students more opportunities to participate in community service. In the Middle School, Explorations take place during the 7th and 8th blocks and students can participate in up to two Exploration courses per term.

Middle School Offerings

List of 37 items.

  • #weneeddiversebooks

    The diverse books movement in children's and YA publishing has led to a wider variety of stories, voices, characters, and structures reaching today's audience of readers. This X-block will explore the history and impact of that movement, highlight, read, and discuss specific student-selected texts, and work to grow the movement by publicizing and advocating for increasingly diverse texts in our school community.
  • 3D Design

    Learn to make things for the 3D printer. Learn to use a variety of CAD programs. As a group we could have a lot of flexibility of what we do and how we do it, but, most importantly, we are going to have fun designing things together!
  • A World of FOOD

    For aspiring journalists with a love of cuisine. This class will focus on writing restaurant/ food reviews for magazines. Students will dive into content from epicurious and various major news publications and try new cuisine from different places. Students will test their knowledge by describing different cuisines and finally writing their very own restaurant review.
  • Calligraphy

    Your handwriting is a visual artform. Calligraphy is the art of written work in a creative form. The word calligraphy actually means “beautiful writing”.  Learn the practice of this art, develop your skills as a calligrapher while you create letters, name plates, certificates and other pieces of work that expresses your own harmony with the written word.
  • Child Development/Babysitter Certification

    Students will learn and practice skills to be a safe, competent babysitter. Students will explore child development and areas of concern in the growth and development of a child. 
  • Chorus

    Chorus is for any student with an interest in singing. Students will sing a wide variety of 3 to 4 part choral music (pop, musical theatre, classical, folk, etc...), attend field trips, have in-class competitions, and perform in 3 concerts. Students in Chorus are eligible to be in the Middle School a cappella group, Noteworthy. 
  • Civics, Podcasting, and Writing Parties

    Using the Civics 101 podcast as a course document, this class will engage students in digital and multimodal writing focused on some of the founding documents of our nation.
  • Common Threads: Crafting for a Cause

    Learn to knit or crochet, then create an item to donate to a local cause. Perhaps you might crochet a hat of an infant or a scarf for someone at a homeless shelter. Come learn a new "craft" while helping out others.
  • Creative Writing and Photography in Nature

    Nature provides a wonderful backdrop for the creative mind. Explore our area, take photographs and use this to inspire your creative writing as we learn from famous writers who dedicated their works to nature.
  • Crime Scene Investigation

    Students will explore different methods used to solve real life crimes. Techniques examined may include hair, fingerprint and footprint analysis as well as blood spatter patterns and bullet trajectory. These techniques will be used to solve who done it. 
  • D-Sauce: Derryfield's "What-If" Channel

    What if... There is a YouTube channel called Vsauce, where the host answers "What if?" questions (ex. What if the Earth stopped spinning?). In small groups students will choose their own "What if?" question and try to answer it.
  • Destination Imagination

    Destination Imagination provides unique challenges for the creative engineer as well as performer. We can pick from –Technical, Scientific, Engineering, Fine Arts, Improvisational, and Service Learning challenges. We will compete at the NH event and hopefully move beyond to regional and national events. One way or the other we will have a lot of fun creating cool solutions to the exciting challenges! 
  • Exploring Architecture: See It, Design It, Build It!

    Think like an Architect and play in the new Science and Innovation Center!! Engineering, design, art, math, physics, history, planning, geography, problem-solving, communication and more are used by architects to "shape" our living environment. Learn what they do, and then create and build a model of your own architectural design. We hope to visit the Frank Lloyd Wright Zimmerman House in Manchester as well as other interesting local buildings.
  • Fitness Boot Camp

    If you want to get serious about your own fitness, this mini-course will teach you about nutrition and fitness as you work to achieve your personal best in terms of your health and athleticism. Work with Mr. Hastings this Fall to become faster, stronger, and more athletic. This is an interval training class that mixes plyometrics, calisthenics and bodyweight exercises with cardio and strength training. These group workouts are designed to push you harder than you would push yourself, and very week will be a new workout that will keep your body guessing.
  • iMovie & Video Making Tips and Tricks

    Students will learn the process of movie making from start to finish using both iMovie and Clips. They will learn how to create imaginative videos with the illusion of teleporting, disappearing, and other visual tricks, using recording and editing techniques inspired by video-maker Zach King. They will also learn how to enhance their movies with slow motion, fast forward, picture in picture, green screen, and split screen effects.
  • Improvisational Theater

    Students will explore their own, unique performing talents through improvisation. Games, scenes, and crazy scenarios will allow each student to express themselves in a spontaneous and creative way.
  • Instrumental Ensemble

    The MS Band program allows students, beginner through advanced, to learn about and make music together to gain skill on concert band instruments (i.e. flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, baritone and percussion). Throughout the week there are large ensemble rehearsals, small group coaching sessions, and the opportunity for student driven small group ensembles. Through mentorship, leadership, and musicianship this community grows together and prepares music for All School Assemblies, talent shows, school concerts and other on and off campus activities.
  • Introduction to Cartooning/Comics

    We will explore the different styles of cartooning and comic book illustration. Students can use this time to sketch ideas, create storyboards and develop their own characters and/or stories. Cartoonists will have access to a plethora of cartooning/drawing/comic/graphic novel material and are also encouraged to bring their own ideas into the classroom.
  • Introduction to Pickleball

    While this may not be in the newest Olympic sport like Skateboarding and Surfing, Pickleball is the up and coming new racket sport.  Played on half a basketball or tennis court, the sport challenges the players to use finesse and subtly to beat their opponents. We will learn a variety of shots along with the fairly simple rules.  Once acclimated, you will know what a “Dink” is, and what the “kitchen” is. You will also get your blood circulating as you chase down the wiffle-like ball. You must have sneakers to wear. No other equipment is needed.
  • Introduction to Yoga

    What is yoga? Yoga is the Sanskrit word for union. It is both spiritual and physical. Yoga uses breathing techniques, exercise and meditation. It helps to improve health and happiness. The short answer is that yoga makes you feel better. Practicing the postures, breathing exercises and meditation makes you healthier in body, mind and spirit. Yoga lets you tune in, chill out, shape up -- all at the same time.
  • Just Read Reading Club

    It is just reading something that is not assigned by a teacher (many variations within it). It does not even need to be a book, fiction or nonfiction, newspapers, magazine, graphic novels and comics count too. You could read it in paper form, digital or even listen to an audio book. On the first meeting we will decide do we read anything you want and we have daily literature circles, choose a theme or genre and read a book and discuss, or all pick one book and read it and discuss.
  • Learn to Row

    Whether you are interested in joining the crew team in the Upper School in the future or just want to know how to use an erg properly, this class will introduce the basics of rowing. We will start with technique, then introduce workouts using some of the erg games. We will watch video of great rowing, learn the parts of a boat, and end the term with a couple sessions at the boathouse.
  • Math Team

    Deepen your love for math as you tackle challenging problems. Learn teamwork, resilience, and problem solving. Compete individually and as a team and make great memories
  • Model UN

    Role play international negotiations in a competition-like atmosphere that will have us learning about current world issues. 
  • Music Appreciation & Songwriting

    If you love listening to music and are inspired by songs, this group is for you. We will share our favorite songs, discuss what makes a song great, examine song structure, analyze lyrical content, study how rhythm & music support the song, and, ultimately, will collaborate to write our own new songs.
  • Music Video Production 101

    Remember when MTV played music videos? Of course you don’t because you are too young! Anyway, music video production has become a viable and important art medium. The ability to combine images with components of plot in support of an artists’ song is a fascinating field that builds a lot of cool skills. If you are interested in learning some of these skills, give MVP 101 a shot this spring term!
  • Newspaper/Media

    Be part of the crew that reports on all things DS middle school in both print and digital media. This mini-course will help you hone your interviewing and writing skills as you work with your peers in a team of reporters. It's a busy school, after all, so someone has to report on it! This term we will explore some new media forms like podcasting and newscasting.
  • Political and Public Debate

    This course will focus on current events in the news, especially those that affect us. We will improve our ability to recognize bias in sources while we learn to strengthen our own opinions based on facts. We will host and run lively debates throughout the term. 
  • Robotics: First Tech Challenge

    MS Robotics: First Tech Challenge will be held in the new Science and Innovation Center and provide students with extra practice time to work together on their team robot for the First Tech Challenge, along with opportunities to organize school outreach activities. This is open to both current members of the FTC team and MS students who would like to explore the possibility of becoming part of the FTC team, either this year or in the future. Students who are currently on the FTC team are strongly encouraged to join MS Robotics: First Tech Challenge!
  • Robotics: Ready, Set, Race!!

    This is a fun introduction to the world of robotics. First, we will form racing teams, NASCAR style, complete with logos and sponsors. Each team will then build a fairly simple robot race car using an Arduino kit and learn to code it. Ultimately, we will create challenges that involve pitting the robot race cars against each other to see which one performs better and earns match points. Over the course of the term, the points will add up and finally at the end of the "racing season," we will declare a grand champion robot racer. The winning team will get its picture taken with their robot race car and a cool 3D printed trophy. The photograph will be framed and hung in the X studio Hall of Legendary Makers! 
  • Science Fiction Books Versus their Movie

    In this xblock we will read a book that has been adapted into a movie. We will read the book first and then watch the movie and create something where we compare the book to the movie. We will read and watch as many books/movies as time allows and we will decide as a group which ones we do.
  • Sports Journalism

    Students will report weekly on the MS sports happenings. Weekly reports will appear in DS news/nuts and bolts along with photos that students take. Reports may also be used to update the school athletic webpages. 
  • The Art of Public Speaking

    For some reason, public speaking typically ranks #1 of adult fears lists - most likely because adults have chosen to avoid speaking in public instead of developing this critical skill. We'll study great speeches/speakers as we craft our own voices and presentation skills in a variety of speaking genres from formal to fun to slam poetry to how to deliver a good joke. 
  • The History of...Your Choice!

    The Mesopotamians? The Pharaohs? The Hottentots? Ancient China? Weapons of the ancient world? World War II? Queen Elizabeth? The Revolutionary War? Do you want to have the time to research and do a project on a favorite time or topic in history? In this class, you choose the topic or time period and create a project about it.
  • Volleyball

    Let's play volleyball! We will learn and practice the basic skills (serve, bump, set, spike) and apply these skills in some competitive matches! Appropriate footwear is needed and kneepads are strongly encouraged!
  • Wilderness Survival Skills

    Would you be able to survive the night if lost in the wilderness? Could you build a shelter from materials you find in the woods? Do you know how to navigate with a map and compass? What should you always have with you in your backpack when wandering in the woods? How would you know if water is safe to drink? Do you know basic first aid to help someone who is injured? Join us as we venture outdoors to learn wilderness survival skills. Note: You will be outside, you will need a change of clothes and, yes, there are ticks in the woods.
  • Winter Outdoors

    We will take advantage of the cold weather and do activities that are made for winter! Activities could include taking part in winter bird counts, animal tracking, making our own thermometers, testing out the science of snowshoes and snowshoeing, freezing bubbles, examining snowflakes, checking out a stream in its winter stages, making cocoa, exploring and recording changes in the landscape in winter, and possibly mapping stone walls. Also, winter is a time for storytelling in many cultures, particularly some Native American cultures, where some stories can ONLY be told in the winter, so we will tell and listen to stories old and new.

The Derryfield School

2108 River Road, Manchester, NH 03104     p: 603.669.4524     f: 603.625.9715